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NSRN Annual Conference 4-6 July 2012 *Nonreligion and the Secular: New Horizons for Multidisciplinary Research*

> Nonreligion and the Secular: New Horizons for Multidisciplinary Research
> Call for Papers| 4-6 July 2012, Goldsmiths, University of London
> Conveners: Lois Lee (, Stacey Gutkowski
> (, and Stephen Bullivant
> (
> Conference Coordinator: Katie Aston (
> Following decades of neglect, the academic study of nonreligion has grown
> rapidly in the past five years. The primary aim of this conference is to
> bring together scholars across a range of academic disciplines (sociology,
> anthropology, theology, political science, psychology, history,
> international relations, area studies) to begin to untangle the confused
> and individually contested concepts of nonreligion and the secular. Is
> nonreligion a subcategory of the secular or vice versa? How do the two
> terms structure one another? What are the practical and theoretical
> implications of the concepts, such as they are and/or in alternative
> formulations? The aim of this international conference is to contribute to
> addressing this lacuna. . While discussions of nonreligion and the secular
> have been running largely in parallel, they are potentially mutually
> enriching topics with significant bearing outside of the academy. This
> conference will consolidate the achievements already made over the past
> five years by nonreligion scholars and forge new, multidisciplinary
> dialogue between these researchers and those primarily working with the
> concept of the secular. This conference will bring together a range of
> internationally renowned scholars, including keynote speakers Gracie Davie
> (Exeter), Callum Brown (Dundee), Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (Leipzig), and
> Humeira Iqtidar (King’s College London).
> The conference engages with a historical moment in which forms of religion
> and nonreligion have increasingly asserted themselves in the public
> sphere, in non-Western as well as Western settings. In the case of radical
> Islamism and New Atheism, such assertions have had powerful, sometimes
> inflammatory and divisive affect. This urgent wider social and political
> context demonstrates the urgency of a reasoned, global, scholarly
> contribution, aimed at further theorising and conceptualising nonreligion
> and the secular, individually and in relation to each other.
> This conference will interrogate three dimensions and welcomes both
> empirically- and theoretically-based paper contributions which address the
> following:
> 1) Nonreligion as a concept in its own right
> What is meant by the term “nonreligion”? How does it manifest itself in
> the lives of individuals and in collective social activity and identity?
> Is it the most appropriate term to encompass a range of phenomena and
> where may its parameters lie? What is the relationship between nonreligion
> and modernity? Is nonreligion a resonant category outside of Western
> contexts?
> 2) The nonreligious in relation to notions of the secular
> How do nonreligion and the secular mutually constitute one another? Under
> what historical social and political conditions did the rise of secularism
> and secularity facilitate the appearance of the nonreligious? Does the
> emergence of the nonreligious indicate a new phase of modernity?
> 3) The implications of nonreligion research for pressing social and
> political issues associated with discussions of the secular
> What bearing does nonreligiosity have on social, political and legal
> questions about social cohesion and multiculturalism? To what extent do
> the “harder” forms on nonreligion breed intolerance and fundamentalism?
> What are the implications of nonreligion for the possibility of democratic
> consensus and governance? To what extent do secular political landscapes
> outside of the West involve or even require the presence of nonreligious
> phenomena?
> Publication Outcome: We are planning to publish a selection of the papers
> presented at the conference in an edited volume.
> The deadline for abstract submission (250 words max) is 27 April 2012.
> Please send your abstract together with a short biographical note to Katie
> Aston at
> Registration will open 20 April 2012, with an early registration discount
> available until Friday 18 May 2012. Full conference (exc. accommodation
> and evening meals): £145 (£110 unwaged); day rate: £65 (£45 unwaged).
> In collaboration with:
> De Gruyter, Goldmsiths University College and St Mary’s university College